The international collaboration on air pollution and pregnancy outcomes: Initial results

Jennifer D. Parker, David Q. Rich, Svetlana V. Glinianaia, Jong Han Leem, Daniel Wartenberg, Michelle L. Bell, Matteo Bonzini, Michael Brauer, Lyndsey Darrow, Ulrike Gehring, Nelson Gouveia, Paolo Grillo, Eunhee Ha, Edith H. van den Hooven Hooven, Bin Jalaludin, Bill M. Jesdale, Johanna Lepeule, Rachel Morello-Frosch, Geoffrey G. Morgan, Rémy SlamaFrank H. Pierik, Angela Cecilia Pesatori, Sheela Sathyanarayana, Juhee Seo, Matthew Strickland, Lillian Tamburic, Tracey J. Woodruff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Background: The findings of prior studies of air pollution effects on adverse birth outcomes are difficult to synthesize because of differences in study design. Objectives: The International Collaboration on Air Pollution and Pregnancy Outcomes was formed to understand how differences in research methods contribute to variations in findings. We initiated a feasibility study to a) assess the ability of geographically diverse research groups to analyze their data sets using a common protocol and b) perform location-specific analyses of air pollution effects on birth weight using a standardized statistical approach. Methods: Fourteen research groups from nine countries participated. We developed a protocol to estimate odds ratios (ORs) for the association between particulate matter ≤ 10 μm in aerodynamic diameter (PM10) and low birth weight (LBW) among term births, adjusted first for socioeconomic status (SES) and second for additional location-specific variables. Results: Among locations with data for the PM10 analysis, ORs estimating the relative risk of term LBW associated with a 10-μg/m3 increase in average PM10 concentration during pregnancy, adjusted for SES, ranged from 0.63 [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.30-1.35] for the Netherlands to 1.15 (95% CI, 0.61-2.18) for Vancouver, with six research groups reporting statistically significant adverse associations. We found evidence of statistically significant heterogeneity in estimated effects among locations. Conclusions: Variability in PM10-LBW relationships among study locations remained despite use of a common statistical approach. A more detailed meta-analysis and use of more complex protocols for future analysis may uncover reasons for heterogeneity across locations. However, our findings confirm the potential for a diverse group of researchers to analyze their data in a standardized way to improve understanding of air pollution effects on birth outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1023-1028
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • Air pollution
  • Birth weight
  • Low birth weight
  • Particulate matter
  • Pregnancy


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